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Antaya

and her perfectly ordered wardrobe

Antaya was an exceptionally well-behaved and orderly girl. Just like her wardrobe in which every single item had its designated place and purpose. Everything was to be put back onto its proper shelf, hung according to the colour code and arranged to suit the occasion. Antaya handled even those clothes which she did not fancy at all, like the overlong trousers, handed down to her from her big sister,  worn-out dresses from her cousin or unwanted gifts from her uncle and aunt. Everything was given its place. As she had often been told not to sulk - “Smile and kindly thank” - she continued to arrange another neat row of folded, shabby garments not only with no sign of sulkiness, but with a kind smile on her face.

Now and then she came across something brand new. Those rare specimens were put on hangers. She would look at them with admiration, slowly getting used to an idea of actually wearing something that gave off an unusual scent of freshness.

Every morning she would stare at the blocks of meticulously arranged items of clothing and would wonder what to choose. However, sometimes she found the sight of the shelves neatly arranged and filled to their brims somewhat overwhelming. The amount of unwanted garments as well as their spotless handling seemed to be a sign of her obedience and subordination. She disliked that. She would try to overcome the feeling that grew in her throat, then she would just grab the closest item and glancing at the mirror she would repeat to herself what she had often been told: “order in the wardrobe, order in the head”.

When Antaya had become a woman, her good manners were replaced by some kind of sophisticated diplomacy, and her sense of order had ripened to be almost perfect. Then she graduated from a university and obtained a diploma which promised her a successful, predictable career.  Another step was to start a job in one of those highly-hierachical corporations and began dating an up-and-coming man of orderly life.

Somehow the wardrobe had become her key to life. She would let in anybody who knocked on her door or just appeared on the doorstep of her life’s wardrobe. She would then label the person and fit them into a proper place. To help manouver within the jungle of shelves she began to mark them with suitable signs such as “Don’t like”, “Hate”, “Must”, “Should”, “Proper”, “Worth”, “Obligatory”, “Welcome”, “Reasonable”, “Just in case”. One could also notice signs that said “Love it”, “Desire”, and “Want”. They were located in the lowest row, but sensibility and social pressure made Antaya cater for things like that as well.

Thus, throughout the years Antaya was being given new shelves and hangers to fill. To avoid the accusation of acting thoughtlessly, now and then she plucked up enough courage to throw something away. Admittedly, it did not occur too often, but, when it did she always performed with a touch of grace and admirable diplomacy. She never missed a chance to make up a rational reason for her decision that would serve as a plausible excuse. Nor could she allow a feeling of being abandoned as well. Uncannily, she would gradually be drifting away, rather unnoticeably, still reassuring the person about her affection. In this way she had become a perfect wardrobe keeper with a diplomatic touch, and she strongly believed that her acting was a result of intristic empathy.

Along with the wardrobe size and the number of shelves Antaya was gradually becoming overwhelmed. There had been numerous situations when her perfectness and tidiness had to give in. The use of diplomacy was also getting more and more difficult and tiresome as it failed to mask all her social touchy points. She caught herself feeling that a change is about to come. She also heard the shelves creak inside her head and even saw them cave in under the pressure of multitudinous unwanted tenants. A kind of pain would come along with dusk and a glass of wine became a routine before falling asleep.

Antaya had come to know what was not good for her. A negative feeling coincided with every opening of the wardrobe door. She began to crave for a change on a far deeper level. She began to understand that the idea of order cannot be limited merely to rearranging and getting rid of a few annoying rags. She had no power left for a mock upgrade. She was after something far more meaningful. If she could spit the fire the whole collection of garments would get fired up just from a scream she let out. It was a scream of anger with herself, at her gullible faith in the power within obedience, at her life in the shade of other people’s expectations and dutifully following their words. Eventually she had realised that every single item of clothing in the wardrobe had been woven out of fear – fear of criticism, negative opinion, not being liked, rejection, contempt, and being abandoned. Nothing she could see in the wardrobe was made of self-loving affection. All the stuff was just a pile of covers of different stories of herself. She grabbed the first jacket she could reach. “A corporate suit of armour!” she laughed to herself through the tears which rolled heavily down her cheeks. And then she thought of something, and the idea brought her a pleasant sensation in her stomach. She opened a window and cast the jacket out onto the pavement down below. And then everything consecutively ended up on the floor. Wardrobe after wardrobe, shelf after shelf. Antaya was tearing, unraveling, cutting, shredding, creasing, and throwing the garments against a wall. When, eventually, all her lies had rested in shreds, she put them in plastic garbage bags and threw them in a trashcan. “If I ever happen to suffer from any feeings of guilt over what I have done, let it dwell where it belongs – garbage”, she thought to herself casting the last bag.

The days to come were not easy at all. Any time Antaya took hold of the closet knob, she would also open previously imprinted patterns. Every thought and every gesture would automatically trigger, like a door handle moves the latch lock, the programmes fixed within her head over the years. The moment Antaya heard knocking on the door she would run the program to welcome the visitor and enetrtain them with a small-talk. She could not help but open her mouth and ask the guests in. She had to do her best to avoid being misled by her old, still working habits.

However, she found the first denial, the first closing the door on someone a great liberating experience, and Antaya wanted to reach deeper. Her diplomatic skills had been replaced with honesty, and perfectness with penetrating perception. And what happened to her wardrobe? There was no need to destroy it. After all it was still a very useful piece of furniture, wasn’t it? So she filled it with hangers to have a better insight into the content and she she got rid of the wardrobe doors to let in more light. She had no intention to hide anything from light. What she had discovered within herself she also wanted to share with others (sometimes creating a sort of mess in the listeners’ heads). Hewever, all she was feeling was the sense of liberation. And she felt that it was just the beginning…

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